Monday, March 15, 2010


Title: Crucifixion

Artist: Pierre-Paul Prud'hon

Medium: Oil on canvas

Size: 278 x 166 cm

Date: 1822

Location: Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Mark 15:33 At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.

The sixth hour began before noon, and the ninth hour before 3 p.m. Darkness was traditionally thought of as portent of imminent judgment. Scripture told of it happening in the past, when Exodus speaks of a plague of darkness (Ex 10:21-23), and in future times as well: “Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light" (Amos 5:18).

This painting was commissioned for Metz Cathedral. Said at the time to have been painted to console the artist in his grief at the suicide of his mistress and pupil Constance Mayer (1775-1821), the sincerity of this work, with its lights and shadows playing over Christ's twisted body and averted face, is beyond doubt.

Pierre-Paul Prud'hon (April 4, 1758, Cluny, - February 16, 1823, Paris) was a French portrait and historical painter. He was trained at the Dijon Academy and in 1784 went to Rome, where he was a friend of Canova and formed his style on the example of the sfumato and sensuous charm of Leonardo and Correggio. In 1787 he returned to Paris and after working in obscurity for some time he became a favorite of both empresses of the French, Josephine and Napoleon’s second wife, Marie-Louise, designing the decorations for the bridal suite of the latter. The shock of the suicide of his mistress Constance Mayer in 1821 led to his own death.

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